Saturday, July 19, 2008

DVD review: Lust, Caution

Last night, I finally saw a DVD of Lust, Caution, the Ang Lee thriller set in Japanese occupied Shanghai during World War II. It was one of those character-driven movies all about romance, betrayal, loneliness, loyalty and patriotism. Initially the film was rather slow-moving, but as it progressed I became more interested but ultimately not an amazing film.

The story, if you're unfamiliar with it, follows a university student who is convinced by her thespian classmates to play the role of an upper-class woman in order to seduce a Chinese official collaborating with the Japanese occupation and lure him into an assassination. The initial plot fails, but after several years, she encounters one of those students--this time officially working with the resistance--who recruits her for the same plot.

You probably should be warned about the sex scenes — they are intense and graphic. Most of them have been censored from most distributions. Ang Lee’s previous movie, Brokeback Mountain, gained attention due to the nature of its sex- the movie portrayed a tragic affair between two gay men (in case you’ve been living on a desert island and didn’t know). Lust, Caution gained publicity for the sheer intensity of its sexual acts. Anyway, it was quite shocking, and I didn't think I'd be shocked since I'm married and all.

Most men will ooh and ahh over Tang Wei (the lead actress). She is truly amazing here. The reaction of the woman who is raped and tortured, and cannot flee because of her commitments is breathtaking - she hates it and yet she is consumed by it.

Lust, Caution
is not a film for everyone. The problem is that at 2 hours and 38 minutes, it’s way too long for the underlying story. I didn’t totally love this movie, and I would say it’s not the kind of thing a lot of people are going to like, but it is worth seeing if you like movies from this period. It received an NC-17 rating for the sexual content, so if that sort of thing bothers you, stay away.

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